Important Changes to Your LinkedIn Visibility

Posted on October 4, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Things are continuing to change at a pace with LinkedIn, most functionality updates are positive things – the new company profile and follow features are excellent as well as the new ‘people who have viewed my profile’ analysis but last week LinkedIn made a key change to what you can see when searching LinkedIn – this change appears to have no benefits to the user whatsoever and could actually have a negative impact on how useful LinkedIn is!

When searching LinkedIn we previously had full visibility of the following users;

1st tier connections – 2nd tier connections – 3rd tier connections – shared group members

The recent changes have now restricted full name visibility to 1st and 2nd tier connections. From now we can only see the first name and surname initial of 3rd tier and group members unless we are prepared to upgrade our account to an ‘Executive’ account at £63 per month.

Search result showing a 3rd tier connection plus those outside network

The first result here is a 3rd tier connection followed by 2 out of network results. As you can see above the information is better than you will see for users outside of your network (4th tier +), when you click through the profile is still fully visible but the lack of a surname is a frustration.

The results are the same for shared group users as below;

Results from within a shared group

I can see only 1 beneficiary of these changes – LinkedIn! To be fair they are a commercial organisation and I can’t blame them for finding ways of increasing revenue but they do need to be careful that changes of this nature don’t start to turn off users – the main thing they really need to be commercially successful!

I am also concerned that this change makes users slightly less visible which could hurt those that are most in need of visibility – job seekers. It may also encourage people to start to connect more widely in order to increase the size of their 1st and 2nd tier connections and this is surely something LinkedIn wish to avoid.


All is not lost folks, there is a quick an easy way to ensure that your full name is visible to group members and 3rd tier connections (always the largest number of users in your network). Simply add your full name into your headline as below;

If the above user had been a 3rd tier connection of mine I would see just ‘Johnnie T’ as the name but the headline underneath would make sure I saw his full surname.

Lets face it, the majority of users are not going to pay £63 a month just for surnames so I strongly suggest everyone changes their headline in this way to ensure they are still fully visible.

To do this go to >profile>edit my profile>click on the edit link next to your name>headline.

Lets hope this is not a start of a trend to make it harder to use LinkedIn as a free user, I don’t believe it will be – this is a small change aimed at recruiters to entice them to start paying for a service which is proving to be a valuable and profitable tool.


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20 Responses to “Important Changes to Your LinkedIn Visibility”

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Hi Mark, thank you so much for this notification – I always look out for your hints and tips on the best way to use LinkedIn. What is really interesting is that I do need the visibility as I’m a small business & I do have it in mind that I will upgrade when finances allow. However, more restrictions of the “free” part of LinkedIn will start to put me off. Again thank you for posting & I will do as you have recommended…I want people to know fully who I am and what my business tries to achieve.
Kind regards,

Hi Mark

Many thanks (once again) for the ‘tip off’ and suggested workaround.


I think this is a big mistake on LinkedIn’s part. I can sympathise with them wanting to make money but only allowing first and last names on the top level account is mad. I can’t find any justification for paying that amount per month and I would have thought there were many others like me.

In actual fact I wouldn’t mind paying LinkedIn – the Business Level account would do me fine. But I think their prices are too high. Charging less and getting more people to pay would seem to be a better business model than having loads of people on free accounts. Doing it this way will just alienate people altogether and could cost them business. It will be interesting to see what happens.

If you look at the column listing “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” it states full names, could be logical to click on one of the names and hope the person you actually need the name of comes up in theirs too..

This is MISERABLE. my job is to reach out to C level execs within organizations and now I can’t see last names! I’ll be out of a job by the end of the month.

Wow, that’s a crazy change, who is going to £63 per month for that? Linkedin surpassing themselves.

Thanks for all your comments. The feedback I am getting from users who already have a premium account (even the $25 one) is that they are seeing full names for 3rd tier and groups so this is just relevant to free users – which is of course the majority. I can understand the reaction but I believe that we can only judge this in time – will it really prove to be a major problem? Lets see what we all think in a months time.

Thanks Mark,

Always great to keep up to date. This helps when “it’s not just what you know or who you know – it’s who knows you.”

Jason Cobine

Thanks Mark – really good to know

If searching for a person whose surname is replaced by the first letter only … copy the job title and company name found and paste this into Google to reveal a link to the person’s fully named profile page.

You are right Richard but there is a bit more to Google X-ray searching thn just typing the headline into Google. My main point is that if everyone put their name in their headline the problem would be solved overnight.

I’ve noticed the same changes (except in the US the charge to see the last names is $99.95). Another potential solution is to use Google or Bing to search for LinkedIn members, but this takes, at minimum, a tutorial on how to do this.

LinkedIn appears to be the only social media site which tries to make it MORE difficult to find other users of its service.

A question I haven’t found an answer to yet: If somebody pays for a “Job Seeker” membership (US $29.95/month), will they be able to see the last names of recruiters and hiring managers in their searches?

Great article.

Thanks Andrew,
I dont think the job seeker package allows visibility of anyone at 3rd tier or group level unless of course they are ‘open link’. It is a shame and potentially damaging to job seekers but I think LinkedIn are pretty sure that the only people really looking at 3rd tier are recruiters who are using this free product to make money – so they feel entitled to charge for it. I am not saying I agree with that but I think this is how they view it.

The current paying customers can see the 3rd degrees names but only for a few more days – then LinkedIn will cease their “reduced offer” at 59 USD per month and will move to charging 100 USD for those who want to see the full names.
I agree that LinkedIn is a commercial business, but their pricing is wrong (Check Viadeo, they charge a lot less per month, less than 10 euros actually, and MANY people have upgraded) – also, the way to build user support is to ADD functionality not to retrieve it.
For me the most annoying is not losing the 3rd degrees names, it’s the group members as these people are normally more relevant to me than random 3rd degree connections.
In my opinion they will not get the increase in premium accounts they expect, and they will start to seriously p… off their members – without whom the paying ones wouldn’t be here in the first place.
I have sent an email to Customer Service on this topic given that this is the only way to reach LinkedIn – even if they never reply.

I can understand your frustration Sandrine, no-one likes losing features that were previously free. Viadeo might be a lot cheaper but it is also a lot smaller!

Good way of getting round it: say you’re looking for a Gary T who works at ‘Amazing’. Go to Google, search Gary “Amazing” linkedin’ and you’ll get to see his full name and details (if 3rd tier).

Bit annoying, but can still use it as you used to.

Thanks Mark, always appreciate your tips.
With the 3rd contacts last name now hidden, would it be helpful to copy the business name and search by company to expose the last name of the person you know the first name of?

Many thanks for this useful tip, which I have now implemented.

I am also finding many of the new changes frustrating. As a freelancer on my own, I need Linkedin to find people, and I simply cannot afford £63 per month.
I am aware that some very large companies are now telling their employees that they must all have a linkedin profile so that potential customers can find them easily. To my mind, Linkedin should be searching them out and charging them for the privilege, rather than charging the single users. If the restricutions continue, people will find it less useful and will eventually stop using it. We are the mainstay of the Linkedin population, and actually the people who made it so successful in the first place. Linkedin should not shoot themselves in the foot by trying to charge the wrong people.

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